It is already summer vacation here. The last day of school was May 22nd and so we now have 3 children again. All. Day. Long. I know at least some of you out there are feeling my pain with 10 weeks of summer break, the need to work from home, and a spouse who is working and going to school. This summer was looking to be a huge panic-inducing mess until I had a moment of divinely inspired brilliance (let’s face it, where else would it come from?) and created an activity system for our girls to use that basically allows them to manage their own time and chores, and guarantees that something will be accomplished at the end of the day (even if it is just enough to save my sanity).
We have all done chore charts, right? In our house, countless chore charts have been created, strictly followed for a week, and promptly abandoned. I can see several reasons for this, the top being that it requires parental initiation and we are not great at staying on top of it all while juggling our schedules. Also, chore charts, no matter what kind of stickers you use, are just boring. No one likes them, ok, probably someone out there loves chore charts. We are just not those people.
We need a system that will run itself, that is highly motivating, and fun. And fair. Let’s not forget who we are dealing with–a 7 year old and a 10 year old–sisters. So, I got the idea to make magnets with daily chores, activities, and extra chores. We’ll call this the “Pick-5” system. There are 10 daily chores, of which the girls can pick 5 to do on any given day. When they complete a chore, they move that magnet to the “Done” zone. They can do these chores whenever they want, which means my oldest has gotten up several mornings and promptly done all five. When daddy gets home from work, he’ll holler “Pick-5” and if they have not completed five chores it is time to do so. We have not had to do this yet, because of the motivation factor.
There are also activity magnets on the fridge. These range from self-directed activities like reading for 20 minutes using the kitchen timer, to adult-intensive activities like going swimming. The self-directed activities give them ideas for what to do and when completed these also go into the “Done” zone. Some activities, like reading, are renewable as many times as they want. Others, like watch a tv show and 15 minutes of computer/game time, have to be redeemed.
Here is where the motivation comes in! In order to redeem another tv show or computer time, they must have all 5 chores completed as well as their reading. Then they can pick an *Extra Chore*. These are chores like picking up sticks in the yard, wiping down window sills, sweeping, mopping, doing a load of laundry. They are challenging and not something I would expect them to do every day, but are good training for life in general, and let’s face it, they are the chores that I would pay someone to do so that I don’t have to do them myself. So I do, I pay them in extra tv time.
What this has produced in our house in the past week is a pair of girls who do their chores on their own, without complaining, and come back for more! Why didn’t this brilliance strike years ago? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because I am taking full advantage of it now!
Sorry for the poor photo, the real camera is waiting for a new charger, I just couldn’t wait to post my new source of sanity!
I am attaching the pages for chore and activity cards below if any of you parents out there want to use this system for your kids. It is not proprietary, I will not charge you to use something that came so easily and has been such a blessing already.
Happy Kids, Happy Mom, Sanity, All a part of the Refreshing Life!